HIGHER LESSONS IN ENGLISH.
A WORK ON ENGLISH GRAMMAR AND COMPOSITION,
IN WHICH THE SCIENCE OF THE LANGUAGE IS MADE TRIBUTARY TO THE ART OF EXPRESSION.
A COURSE OF PRACTICAL LESSONS CAREFULLY GRADED, AND ADAPTED TO EVERY-DAY USE IN THE SCHOOL-ROOM.
BY ALONZO REED, A.M.,
FORMERLY INSTRUCTOR IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR IN THE POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, BROOKLYN,
AND BRAINERD KELLOGG, LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE IN THE POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, BROOKLYN.
Revised Edition, 1896.
The plan of "Higher Lessons" will perhaps be better understood if we first speak of two classes of text-books with which this work is brought into competition.
+Method of One Class of Text-books+.—In one class are those that aim chiefly to present a course of technical grammar in the order of Orthography, Etymology, Syntax, and Prosody. These books give large space to grammatical Etymology, and demand much memorizing of definitions, rules, declensions, and conjugations, and much formal word parsing,—work of which a considerable portion is merely the invention of grammarians, and has little value in determining the pupil's use of language or in developing his reasoning faculties. This is a revival of the long-endured, unfruitful, old-time method.
+Method of Another Class of Text-books.+—In another class are those that present a miscellaneous collection of lessons in Composition, Spelling, Pronunciation, Sentence-analysis, Technical Grammar, and General Information, without unity or continuity. The pupil who completes these books will have gained something by practice and will have picked up some scraps of knowledge; but his information will be vague and disconnected, and he will have missed that mental training which it is the aim of a good text-book to afford. A text-book is of value just so far as it presents a clear, logical development of its subject. It must present its science or its art as a natural growth, otherwise there is no apology for its being.
+The Study of the Sentence for the Proper Use of Words.+—It is the plan of this book to trace with easy steps the natural development of the sentence, to consider the leading facts first and then to descend to the details. To begin with the parts of speech is to begin with details and to disregard the higher unities, without which the details are scarcely intelligible. The part of speech to which a word belongs is determined only by its function in the sentence, and inflections simply mark the offices and relations of words. Unless the pupil has been systematically trained to discover the functions and relations of words as elements of an organic whole, his knowledge of the parts of speech is of little value. It is not because he cannot conjugate the verb or decline the pronoun that he falls into such errors as "How many sounds have each of the vowels?" "Five years' interest are due." "She is older than me." He probably would not say "each have," "interest are," "me am." One thoroughly familiar with the structure of the sentence will find little trouble in using correctly the few inflectional forms in English.
+The Study of the Sentence for the Laws of Discourse.+—Through the study of the sentence we not only arrive at an intelligent knowledge of the parts of speech and a correct use of grammatical forms, but we discover the laws of discourse in general. In the sentence the student should find the law of unity, of continuity, of proportion, of order. All good writing consists of good sentences properly joined. Since the sentence is the foundation or unit of discourse, it is all-important that the pupil should know the sentence. He should be able to put the principal and the subordinate parts in their proper relation; he should know the exact function of every element, its relation to other elements and its relation to the whole. He should know the sentence as the skillful engineer knows his engine, that, when there is a disorganization of parts, he may at once find the difficulty and the remedy for it.
+The Study of the Sentence for the Sake of Translation.+—The laws of thought being the same for all nations, the logical analysis of the sentence is the same for all languages. When a student who has acquired a knowledge of the English sentence comes to the translation of a foreign language, he finds his work greatly simplified. If in a sentence of his own language he sees only a mass of unorganized words, how much greater must be his confusion when this mass of words is in a foreign tongue! A study of the parts of speech is a far less important preparation for translation, since the declensions and conjugations in English do not conform to those of other languages. Teachers of the classics and of modern languages are beginning to appreciate these facts.
+The Study of the Sentence for Discipline+.—As a means of discipline nothing can compare with a training in the logical analysis of the sentence. To study thought through its outward form, the sentence, and to discover the fitness of the different parts of the expression to the parts of the thought, is to learn to think. It has been noticed that pupils thoroughly trained in the analysis and the construction of sentences come to their other studies with a decided advantage in mental power. These results can be obtained only by systematic and persistent work. Experienced teachers understand that a few weak lessons on the sentence at the beginning of a course and a few at the end can afford little discipline and little knowledge that will endure, nor can a knowledge of the sentence be gained by memorizing complicated rules and labored forms of analysis. To compel a pupil to wade through a page or two of such bewildering terms as "complex adverbial element of the second class" and "compound prepositional adjective phrase," in order to comprehend a few simple functions, is grossly unjust; it is a substitution of form for content, of words for ideas.
+Subdivisions and Modifications after the Sentence.+—Teachers familiar with text-books that group all grammatical instruction around the eight parts of speech, making eight independent units, will not, in the following lessons, find everything in its accustomed place. But, when it is remembered that the thread of connection unifying this work is the sentence, it will be seen that the lessons fall into their natural order of sequence. When, through the development of the sentence, all the offices of the different parts of speech are mastered, the most natural thing is to continue the work of classification and subdivide the parts of speech. The inflection of words, being distinct from their classification, makes a separate division of the work. If the chief end of grammar were to enable one to parse, we should not here depart from long-established precedent.
+Sentences in Groups—Paragraphs+.—In tracing the growth of the sentence from the simplest to the most complex form, each element, as it is introduced, is illustrated by a large number of detached sentences, chosen with the utmost care as to thought and expression. These compel the pupil to confine his attention to one thing till he gets it well in hand. Paragraphs from literature are then selected to be used at intervals, with questions and suggestions to enforce principles already presented, and to prepare the way informally for the regular lessons that follow. The lessons on these selections are, however, made to take a much wider scope. They lead the pupil to discover how and why sentences are grouped into paragraphs, and how paragraphs are related to each other; they also lead him on to discover whatever is most worthy of imitation in the style of the several models presented.
+The Use of the Diagram+.—In written analysis, the simple map, or diagram, found in the following lessons, will enable the pupil to present directly and vividly to the eye the exact function of every clause in the sentence, of every phrase in the clause, and of every word in the phrase—to picture the complete analysis of the sentence, with principal and subordinate parts in their proper relations. It is only by the aid of such a map, or picture, that the pupil can, at a single view, see the sentence as an organic whole made up of many parts performing various functions and standing in various relations. Without such map he must labor under the disadvantage of seeing all these things by piecemeal or in succession.
But if for any reason the teacher prefers not to use these diagrams, they may be omitted without causing the slightest break in the work. The plan of this book is in no way dependent on the use of the diagrams.
+The Objections to the Diagram+.—The fact that the pictorial diagram groups the parts of a sentence according to their offices and relations, and not in the order of speech, has been spoken of as a fault. It is, on the contrary, a merit, for it teaches the pupil to look through the literary order and discover the logical order. He thus learns what the literary order really is, and sees that this may be varied indefinitely, so long as the logical relations are kept clear.
The assertion that correct diagrams can be made mechanically is not borne out by the facts. It is easier to avoid precision in oral analysis than in written. The diagram drives the pupil to a most searching examination of the sentence, brings him face to face with every difficulty, and compels a decision on every point.
+The Abuse of the Diagram+.—Analysis by diagram often becomes so interesting and so helpful that, like other good things, it is liable to be overdone. There is danger of requiring too much written analysis. When the ordinary constructions have been made clear, diagrams should be used only for the more difficult sentences, or, if the sentences are long, only for the more difficult parts of them. In both oral and written analysis there is danger of repeating what needs no repetition. When the diagram has served its purpose, it should be dropped.
AUTHORS' NOTE TO REVISED EDITION.
During the years in which "Higher Lessons" has been in existence, we have ourselves had an instructive experience with it in the classroom. We have considered hundreds of suggestive letters written us by intelligent teachers using the book. We have examined the best works on grammar that have been published recently here and in England. And we have done more. We have gone to the original source of all valid authority in our language— the best writers and speakers of it. That we might ascertain what present linguistic usage is, we chose fifty authors, now alive or living till recently, and have carefully read three hundred pages of each. We have minutely noted and recorded what these men by habitual use declare to be good English. Among the fifty are such men as Ruskin, Froude, Hamerton, Matthew Arnold, Macaulay, De Quincey, Thackeray, Bagehot, John Morley, James Martineau, Cardinal Newman, J. R. Green, and Lecky in England; and Hawthorne, Curtis, Prof. W. D. Whitney, George P. Marsh, Prescott, Emerson, Motley, Prof. Austin Phelps, Holmes, Edward Everett, Irving, and Lowell in America. When in the pages following we anywhere quote usage, it is to the authority of such men that we appeal.
Upon these four sources of help we have drawn in the Revision of "Higher
Lessons" that we now offer to the public.
In this revised work we have given additional reasons for the opinions we hold, and have advanced to some new positions; have explained more fully what some teachers have thought obscure; have qualified what we think was put too positively in former editions; have given the history of constructions where this would deepen interest or aid in composition; have quoted the verdicts of usage on many locutions condemned by purists; have tried to work into the pupil's style the felicities of expression found in the lesson sentences; have taught the pupil earlier in the work, and more thoroughly, the structure and the function of paragraphs; and have led him on from the composition of single sentences of all kinds to the composition of these great groups of sentences. But the distinctive features of "Higher Lessons" that have made the work so useful and so popular stand as they have stood—the Study of Words from their Offices in the Sentence, Analysis for the sake of subsequent Synthesis, Easy Gradation, the Subdivisions and Modifications of the Parts of Speech after the treatment of these in the Sentence, etc., etc. We confess to some surprise that so little of what was thought good in matter and method years ago has been seriously affected by criticism since.
The additions made to "Higher Lessons"—additions that bring the work up to the latest requirements—are generally in foot-notes to pages, and sometimes are incorporated into the body of the Lessons, which in number and numbering remain as they were. The books of former editions and those of this revised edition can, therefore, be used in the same class without any inconvenience.
Of the teachers who have given us invaluable assistance in this Revision, we wish specially to name Prof. Henry M. Worrell, of the Polytechnic Institute; and in this edition of the work, as in the preceding, we take pleasure in acknowledging our great indebtedness to our critic, the distinguished Prof. Francis A. March, of Lafayette College.
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